Biologically Inspired Microphones

date November 21, 2014
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Friday, November 21, 2014 4:00 p.m. ETC 4.150

Professor Neal A. Hall
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

The parasitoid fly Ormia Ochracea has the remarkable ability to locate crickets using audible sound. This ability is, in fact, remarkable as the fly’s hearing mechanism spans only 1.5 mm, which is 50 times smaller than the wavelength of sound emitted by the cricket. The hearing mechanism is, for all practical purposes, a point in space with no significant interaural time or level differences to draw from. It has been discovered that evolution has empowered the fly with a hearing mechanism that utilizes multiple vibration modes to amplify interaural time and level differences. Here, we present a fully integrated, man-made mimic of the Ormia’s hearing mechanism capable of replicating the remarkable sound localization ability of the special fly. A silicon-micromachined prototype is presented which uses multiple piezoelectric sensing ports to simultaneously transduce two orthogonal vibration modes of the sensing structure, thereby enabling simultaneous measurement of sound pressure and pressure gradient.